Sermon

The Eighth Commandment (Exodus 20:15)

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The Eighth Commandment is “You shall not steal.” To steal is “taking something that does not belong to you without permission.”[1] This commandment is given by the Lord to be a protection and a blessing to the nation of Israel. The prohibition against stealing only makes sense with the understanding that there are things that belong to you and things they do not belong to you. The Lord made this commandment because of His desire that Israel be a well-ordered nation in which the people love Him and one another. In this sermon, we will discuss the command to not steal in terms of taking what is not yours and/or refusing to give what is required of you.

Taking What is Not Yours

God gave this command because He wants us to love one another and treat each other well. It is impossible to love someone and steal from them (Rom 13:9). The command against stealing includes possessions and persons. This commandment prohibits everything from silently slipping a candy bar in a store to looting TVs from a store to cheating on your taxes, etc. We learned in Genesis 31:19 that Rachel “stole the household idols that were her father’s.” It also refers to kidnapping (Gen 40:15 & Ex 21:16). It is important for God’s people to identify what does and does not belong to us and refuse to steal. This includes money, possessions, etc. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” We are not to steal from one another and deprive others of what they need, but we are to share what we have with others to be a blessing to them. It is sin and a violation of the eighth commandment to take what is not yours without permission.

Refusing to Give What is Required

Another aspect of this command—which we will spend more time discussing—is refusing to give what is required of you. While this might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think of stealing, it is nonetheless theft to refuse to be generous with what God has given to you. The refusal to be generous is scandalous for a Christian’s testimony and faith. Christians should be the most generous people in the world because we recognize and embrace the Biblical teaching that we are not owners, but managers. Everything we have is a gift from God. 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it?” God is the owner. While it is important to work hard, we must remember that all we have comes through God’s grace. Even though you do not own them, you are still responsible for them. Remember, a manager is employed to manage on behalf of the owner. Managers are entrusted by the owner and are held accountable to the owner. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.

How then shall we properly manage God’s money in a manner that pleases Him? We use it to further God’s agenda “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and not our own. We must be on guard against greed. Greed is dangerous because it is the belief that everything we have is for us. Andy Stanley defined greed as “the assumption that everything is for my consumption.” We must not be selfish hoarders but should be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7). We should give cheerfully and sacrificially. We give glory to God when we are generous because we testify to others that God is our supreme good and is worthy of all our time, talent, and treasure.

Give Your Time

Who owns your time? We always make time for what is important. If you believe that God is most important, then you will give all your time to God as a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). This means you are diligent to give your schedule to God and ask Him to fill in the appointments and set the agenda. You steal from God when you do not give Him all your time and allow Him to set your schedule. Consider: 1) What occupies most of your time? Does it contribute to or hinder your spiritual growth and maturity? 2) What occupies most of your thoughts? Is it good, holy, and pure? Or not? 3) Do you make time every day to worship God and do you make the gathering of the local church for worship a priority in your life?

Give Your Talent

Who gave you your talents? We have been created, designed, and gifted by God for His glory and our good. Each of us have been given talents and gifts and are expected to use them. If you use your talent for God’s glory then you will be blessed, but if you do not use your talent for God’s glory then you will be disciplined (Matt 25). You steal from God when you do not use your God-given talents for His glory. Consider: 1) Are you using your gifts and talents selfishly or for the benefit of others? 2) Are you using your gifts and talents so that people will grow in spiritual maturity and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

Give Your Treasure

To whom are you accountable for your money? Every dollar that you have in your possession has been given to you by God. He is the rightful owner, and He has given it to you to manage. Christians, according to the Bible, are not the owners of their money and possessions but managers. As managers of God’s resources, we will one day give an account of what we did with it. You “rob God” (Mal 3:8) when you withhold your tithes and offerings. Consider: 1) Do you admit that everything belongs to God and you are not the owner but a manager of it? 2) Do you give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7) to your local church? To good causes? 3) Do you fail to give a portion of your income back to God because you are afraid you will not have enough to live on? Remember, giving is an act of faith that you are trusting God to take care of you. Trust Him and give cheerfully.


[1] Douglas Stuart, New American Commentary: Exodus.